Interview: Yumi Zouma

The Brief

The Brief - YZ.png

Yumi Zouma are a New Zealand-based synth pop group that formed in response to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, during which the band members’ shared house was destroyed. Dispersed around the world, from Paris to New York, they exchanged musical ideas and demo tracks via email. The group’s first EP, I, was followed by invitations to support Lorde and Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) on tour in Australia and New Zealand. Their debut album, Yoncalla, received praise from publications including DIY Magazine, Pitchfork, and PopMatters. Yumi Zouma's most recent record, Willowbank, was released on October 6th 2017 on Cascine. 

This is the fourth interview in a five-part series celebrating our favourite electronic and synth music albums of 2017. You can read the other interviews in this series here: Annie HartLusineBlanck Mass, Hauschka.

Which self-portrait by a female artist would you recommend?
Rita Angus’s self-portraits. She’s an artist from New Zealand who did over fifty self-portraits in her life. They are startling, vulnerable, and beautiful. – Josh Burgess

Which war film would you recommend?
Tama Tu, directed by Taika Waititi. A short film with no dialogue, it really captures a feeling of isolation and togetherness in the absurdity of war. – JB

Which work of literature about London would you recommend?
‘After the Lunch’, a poem by Wendy Cope. I first read it on the London Tube. It contains beautiful imagery and honesty about the counterintuitive nature of love. – JB

Which work of photojournalism would you recommend?
Through the Outback, Adam Ferguson’s otherworldly images of places, people, and a way of life that is so removed from what I think about when I imagine Australian living. – JB

Which poem would you recommend?
‘Monica’ by Hera Lindsay Bird. Hilariously self-aware. Anyone who can poetically critique Friends and link it to the pains of modern relationships is a winner in my book. – Christie Simpson


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are directors creative dictators?
If a camel is a horse designed by committee, sometimes a dictator wants a racehorse and ignores the complications it might get into trekking across the desert. – JB

Can art erase history?
Yes, easily. So much of the art we know of in this age has been found to represent to us only a small portion of the society it came from. – CS

Does ordering information devalue it?
Only if it makes it easier to ignore the information we don’t want to see. – JB

When we perform in character, do we lose our own voice?
On the contrary. Depending on the circumstances, I find performing in character gains me another voice, a new voice. Then I have two. – CS

Rule of Three

The following questions relate to our Rule of Three column, for which each article includes a trio of artworks that share an association with a single word.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Kaleidoscope’ would you recommend?
The Snail by Henri Matisse. It fills my heart with an immense feeling of joy. To know that he created some of his best work in the last years of his life is also joyous. – CS

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which artworks by artists from New Zealand would you recommend?
Witch Dance, a sculpture by Len Lye. His ability to sculpt with sound and movement combined is absolutely entrancing, completely bewitching, and totally unfathomable. – CS

Brightly Painted One, an album by Tiny Ruins. It is gentle and sweet, complex but somehow also perfectly simple. I feel it could provide you solace, guiding you through dark times. – CS

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

For you, is artistic discovery a private or shared experience, and why?
For me, it is both. A well-rounded sense of discovery requires recommendations from others alongside personal, private explorations. – CS

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
What is the hardest decision you think you would ever have to make? – CS

More to discover

Yumi Zouma: Visit the group’s website here, their Bandcamp page here, and their Soundcloud page here. Their Twitter handle is @yumizouma. Listen to ‘December’, ‘Depths (Pt. I)’, ‘Half Hour’, and ‘Persephone’ on Cascine’s YouTube channel. Russell Thomas has interviewed the band for The Fader, as have Emilee Lindner for Noisey, and Rachel Davies for Nylon.

Today’s recommendations: Rita Angus (artist’s website), Tama Tu (short film), After the Lunch (excerpt), Through the Outback (photo essay), Monica (poem), The Snail (image of the artwork), Witch Dance (information about the artwork), Brightly Painted One (album on Bandcamp).

Also on Silent Frame